Unshackled Ventures secures another $35M to invest in immigrant founders

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Despite a challenging fundraising environment, venture funds able to prove their thesis are continuing to see interest from limited partners.

Unshackled Ventures is the latest venture capital firm to close on a new fund, its third, with $35 million in capital commitments toward pre-seed investments in immigrant founders. It’s been a while since TechCrunch profiled the firm, founded by Manan Mehta and Nitin Pachisia, and boy has the firm been busy. In addition to deploying over $35 million into 80 companies, Unshackled Ventures has provided over 200 founders with visa sponsorship, immigration support and resources.

When talking about the fundraising environment today versus 2019 when the second fund was announced, Pachisia said it took 18 months to secure capital for the third fund compared to around six months for each of the previous funds. He noted that the environment shifted about halfway after he and Mehta began speaking with LPs “but that it brought us closer to the right kind of LPs that we aligned with.”

Indeed, Fund III more than doubles the firm’s assets under management, Mehta and Pachisia told TechCrunch, and garnered 73% of its funding from institutional investors, including Cambridge Associates, Cendana, Emerson Collective, California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank and Sorenson Impact Advisory.

“A lot of Fund III represents what Fund I was founded for, which are the problems that we faced nine years ago,” Mehta said. “If we provide immigrants with friends-and-family capital support, we believe that we can preserve the American promise and honestly as a venture capital firm, invest in a talent pool that otherwise was overlooked. Immigrants are some of the greatest job creators, and in this country, that’s why we keep on believing as a national advantage, this population is in the American best interest.”

In 2023, 781,000 foreign workers registered for 85,000 H-1B visa lottery slots, more than double the registrations for the previous year. Unshackled Ventures wants to be able to help more immigrants in this situation, and along with the fund, will begin a program called Eighteen150, a founder-in-residence program, on July 18 to support more immigrant entrepreneurs regardless of their immigration status.

Though Mehta and Pachisia didn’t want to disclose much more on the program just yet, they did say the firm is dedicating $5 million out of Fund III for the program to provide complete immigration and employment support, offering founders $150,000 or 18 months of runway, for 10% ownership.

Meanwhile, Unshackled Ventures has already made 18 investments with Fund III, including Masa Finance, a web3 identify infrastructure layer; Cache Energy, a long-duration energy storage company; and Formally, a generative AI legal tech company.

“The core of it all is backing people when they are ready to jump into their entrepreneurial journeys,” Pachisia said. “One of the trends that we might be bucking a little bit in VC is, as funds get larger, usually investors move later-stage and want to write bigger checks. We’re moving earlier to realize our true advantage lies in that earliest phase of joining the founder when they’re ready to go.”

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